Bloggers as the Conscience of Wall Street
- Joshua M Brown
- June 12th, 2011
“Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life”
- Norman Cousins
Is Wall Street heartless? Soulless? Has it become a no-man’s land for those who give a damn? A cover-your-own-ass and just get paid type of story?
Yes, yes, yes and yes. There are those who say it has always been that way but I know that it’s gotten worse.
But there are some of us who care. Who would like to see things run as fairly as possible. Who don’t understand why a level playing field without so many bad actors has to be a joke instead of a goal.
Many of our colleagues who deeply desire better markets and a cleaner capitalist structure have no voice at all. They cannot express their ideals because they fear the loss of their positions and affiliations, they fear the regulatory and compliance problems that can come from being honest and ripping down the curtain from the inside.
But there is a small group with the weight of it all on our shoulders. We are the practitioner-bloggers.
We are current or former financial pros who are compelled each day to share with those who have never quite seen it from the inside. There are those of us who work on The Street and have dedicated massive amounts of time and energy to exposing cheaters, debunking mythology and showing a human face where only cufflinks and suit coats and briefcases and business cards were seen before.
Nobody asked us to do this, none of us were hired, elected or appointed to the task. We just do it. We are market professionals and we are blogging about our industry in a very personal way. We are the conscience of Wall Street.
Joe and Sal at Themis Trading railing against the methodical thievery of the high frequency trading cabal.
James Altucher preaching a daily sermon of failure and success to the masses, as though his soul is screaming from inside of him to set more of the truth free with every post.
Barry taking down mortgage and foreclosure scams left and right at The Big Picture, keeping us all honest about the true causes of the credit crisis.
Me hammering away at Chinese fraudsters, currency hucksters and sell-side scoundrels here at TRB.
The Epicurean Dealmaker coming down on banking-related mendacity like a ton of bricks.
John Hempton reading the fine print that the rest of us simply skim over on Bronte Capital.
Carl ripping the guts out of a machine that’s been designed to obfuscate, wielding only a sharpie and the pure white space of Behavior Gap.
Joe beating down the daily BS with a baseball bat from his Upside Trader turret.
Yves Smith pursuing the Dimons and the Blankfeins to the ends of the earth, as much of what they’ve wrought goes unpunished.
Tyler Durden being, well, Tyler Durden.
Guys like Kid Dynamite and Mike Konczal and Cullen Roche and David Merkel and Jeff Carter and The Analyst and Tom Brakke and Trader Mark and Wade Slome and so many others with so much to say, much of it rich with the depth and gravitas that only experience can develop. All of it written with feeling and passion, almost none of it attached to any immediate financial reward. We’re not blogging for clicks (although clicks are appreciated). This is the stuff we have to say, the stuff that no one else can say. And we are taking a risk in saying it – professionally, personally, permanently.
Can we be sanctimonious at times? Holier than thou? Even self-serving? Sure. Do we get distracted with little bitchfights amongst ourselves over trivial minutiae? Like every week. But this is what makes what we do and who we are even more vital, because the very best of what we put out is self-deprecating and honest. Admitting fault or imprecision on The Street is a death sentence, but on the blogs we are known to rip our own skin off and bleed all over the digital page.
In the old days there were op-ed pages that served as the conscience of Wall Street, though they have all become hopelessly partisan and are written by committee, anonymously and in the dark. In the age of social identity, these screeds have been stripped of whatever power they once held. And don’t count on any conscientious leadership to come from the top of the major firms these days either. The guys running the show didn’t start any of their own companies and rose to power like most fraternity presidents do – by being the least objectionable and the most adroit at dealing with their peers. The legends are gone and going: Ace Greenberg is retired, Art Cashin is probably right behind him and they never made another man quite like Jack Bogle.
Somebody has to be the Heart and Soul. Somebody has to fill the vacuum of compunction and compassion as we’re on the brink of either gaining or losing everything – and no one can tell which it will be yet!
So you tell me where else this vacuum is being filled? Nowhere else. We are market pros and the guys reporting from the front. Our hands are dirty, they’ve been in the soil all day. We get things wrong and beat dead horses and talk our books. But still, we are the conscience of Wall Street.
Whatever’s left of it anyway.
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The Reformed Broker is a blog about financial markets and the economy. Joshua Brown is a New York City-based investment advisor for high net worth individuals, charitable foundations, retirement plans and corporations... More.